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Reviewing The Novel The Chaste Maid English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 960 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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A Chaste Maid in Cheapside: Lying and Dishonesty

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside was written in 1610 by Thomas Middleton, and unlike his other works this was presented in front of a large audience. Middleton’s works where considered to be adventurous because of it sturdily satirized religion hypocrisy. Middleton takes the sacredness of marriage and writes about four comical marriage plots that rotate around one character. The shared theme of lying and dishonesty in the play appears to revolve around the character Sir Walter Whorehound a Knight, the common factor that is presented in all three marriages in the play.

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The marriage of Sir Walter and Moll is the first marriage presented, where Sir Walter is a unreliable character. In the opening act there is a conversation between Moll and her mother talking about how fortunate she is to be promised to Sir Walter, when the truth is that Sir Walter is only looking forward into marrying her because, Moll is the daughter of a goldsmith and he plans to inherit the domain. Thru the conversation it seem as if Sir Walter’s engagements are noble and kind for wanting to marrying the unfeminine Moll, demonstrating his first lie. Sir Walter is only marrying Moll for money, but he will only marry Moll with the condition that he marries his wealthy niece from Wales to the Yellowhammer’s son Tim. bonding him to the second marriage, the matrimony between Tim and Sir Walter’s niece who is really his lover. Before arriving to Cheapside he instructs her to lie about who she is and to pass as a pure virgin (I. i, 86). Sir Walter’s servant Davy makes a comical statement saying that it is hard for her to pass as a virgin when she is evidently a prostitute. Sir Walter tricks the Yellowhammers and fools them into accepting as true that she is a Welsh gentlewoman. Even though the Yellowhammers get suspicious that she is really a prostitute they don’t give too much importance because they want their son married.

The second marriage that brings up the plot is the Alwitts, they have a distinctive marriage where they both take advantage through an arrangement. Mr. Allwitt lets his wife have an affair with Sir Walter; but in return Sir Walter needs to take care of all their expenditures. Allwitt lets Sir Walter to be his wife’s lover to the point where the Alwitts don’t have any intercourse in their marriage. In this situation Allwitt fears that Sir Walter is getting engaged and would no longer need his wife and will no longer provide for his family, just because Mrs. Allwitt and Sir Walter’s relationship doesn’t seem to go further than sex. She seems happy having his bastard children as long as he pays for it. When Mr. Alwitt suspects that Sir Walter is engaged he aims to stop him getting married so that the arrangement continues. Between All the lies in the plot Middleton achieves to have the most dysfunctional marriage seems as most honest. Here Sir Walter is clearly the one in the middle but that’s where he is desired. Both Mr. and Mrs. Alwitt know and want him for different reasons and at the same time they are all informed about the arrangement and they seem to have agreed with it. Mr. Alwitt tries to continue with the arrangement when he decides to stop the marriage between Sir Walter and Moll, but at the same time Sir Walter still lies to Mrs. Alwitt about his engagement to Moll because he would like to continue his relationship with Mrs. Alwitt.

The other marriage that Sir Walter is involved with is the anticipated marriage between Moll and Touchwood, this being the only marriage that is truly based for nothing more than real love. Moll and Touchwood want to be married because they really are in love with each other, receive no marginal benefits by getting married, they gain no social status and Touchwood doesn’t care about Moll’s father’s estate. This by being the only marriage that has no dishonesty or direct lie, obviously Sir Walter had to be involved someway. His planned marriage to Moll is ruined after knowing that she loves someone else, but still he wants to marry her to get the estates.

The fascinating characteristic about Sir Walter is that even though he lies and betrays everyone in the play he is still vowed to marry Moll. Yellowhammer finds out about Sir Walter’s lover through Allwitt and he still forgives because Yellowhammer has a mistress himself. This presents the religious hypocrisy around the play about how marriage shouldn’t be sacred as long as you gain social status. Just when it seems that Sir Walter will get away with all Touchwood trials Sir Walter and they both end in really bad shape. When Davy, Sir Walter’s Servant, realizes that he might die he goes to the Allwits so that he can write his will and leave his estate to them. Sir Walter then believes that his “sins” have condemned him and that’s why he’s dying and the Alwitts are to blame and will leave them nothing. This then shows that the entire arrangement didn’t end up not working in the Alwitts favor. This concludes that each deceitful marriage was cause by Sir Walter in one way or another. At the end the marriage between Moll and Touchwood, this was the only marriage, out of love, and ended up happening because they lied to everyone else. However this would have never been a conflict if Sir Walter didn’t exist which proves his involvement and frequent lying in all the marriages is what the play revolves around.

Work Cited

novleguide.com. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside 2011 Web. .


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